Chesterton Speech and Debate Wins Districts, AAA State Championship

Trojans add five new placings to their Wall of Fame.


Dakota McCoy

Pictured: First row – Mark Jewison, Jackson Dudek, Josh Hoover, Dylan Leavitt. Second row – Carmen Thomas, Addison Botts, Gigi Hanner, Natalie Nuñez, Elsa Leady, Katie Asbury, Hamza Sahli. Third Row – Julia Dietrich, Hannah Anders, Riley Hawksworth, Freedom Eiden, Gretta Burke, Milena Letic, Savannah Hutchinson, Sierra Hutchinson. Fifth row: Damion Lopez, Matt Keane, Nathan Osborn.

Dakota McCoy, Sandscript Guest Contributor

The Chesterton High School speech and debate team wrapped up its competition season with the district speech and state speech tournaments on March 5th and 12th, respectively. At the district tournament, Chesterton qualified five more students to the national tournament in June. Chesterton High School was named the District Series championship school, having amassed the greatest number of sweepstakes points and national qualifiers across the debate, speech, and district congress tournaments.

During the district awards ceremony, senior Natalie Nuñez was presented with the Northwest Indiana District Student of the Year award, marking the second year in a row that the honor has been given to a Chesterton student.

The following students qualified to the national tournament in Louisville, Kentucky:

  • Hannah Anders in Informative Speaking

  • Gigi Hanner, Nathan Osborn, and Hamza Sahli in Extemporaneous Speaking

  • Dylan Leavit in Programmed Oral Interpretation

  • Natalie Nuñez in Original Oratory

The following weekend, the team took 24 student entries to the state tournament held at Fishers High School. The tournament included 55 schools and more than 500 student entries. Of Chesterton’s 24 entries, 13 advanced to the final round, 10 ranked within the top three of their event, and 5 were crowned state champions. Once the final results were tallied, Chesterton emerged as the AAA State Championship team. The team was extremely close to receiving the Ralph Lawson award as well, nipping at rival Munster’s heels with 146 points to their 148.

The tournament consisted of three preliminary rounds followed by a “break” to the quarter final of the top 24 in each event, a semi-final for the top 12, and then a final round for the top 6. For students hoping to make the final round in two events, this meant giving 12 stellar performances over the course of a single day.

Seniors, Dylan Leavitt and Mark Jewison, who were both competing in two events, led the charge with four first place victories between them. Junior, Jackson Dudek, completed his second year in the program with a state championship in radio broadcasting. Dudek also boasts the accomplishment of having won first place at every tournament he attended during the competition season, which runs from October to March. This was the second year in a row that Chesterton claimed the state title in Broadcasting and Programmed Oral Interpretation.

The following students advanced to quarterfinals at the state tournament:

  • Hannah Anders – Informative Speaking

  • Addison Botts – Poetry

  • Julia Dietrich – Informative Speaking

  • Freedom Eiden – International Extemporaneous Speaking

  • Carmen Thomas – Original Oratory

The following students advanced to semifinals at the state tournament:

  • Riley Hawksworth – US Extemporaneous Speaking

  • Savannah Hutchinson & Sierra Hutchinson – Duo Interpretation

  • Elsa Leady – Humorous Interpretation

  • Natalie Nuñez – Dramatic Interpretation

  • Hamza Sahli – Impromptu Speaking

The following students advanced to the final round at the state tournament:

  • Greta Burke – 6th place in Discussion

  • Jackson Dudek – 3rd in Original Performance, 1st in Broadcasting

  • Gigi Hanner – 4th in Original Oratory, 2nd in Broadcasting

  • Josh Hoover – 3rd in Original Performance, 2nd in Humorous Interpretation

  • Mark Jewison – 1st in Impromptu Speaking, 1st in US Extemporaneous Speaking

  • Dylan Leavitt – 1st in Informative Speaking, 1st in Programmed Oral Interpretation

  • Natalie Nuñez – 3rd in Original Oratory

  • Nathan Osborn – 6th in US Extemporaneous Speaking

  • Hamza Sahli – 2nd in International Extemporaneous Speaking

The coaches would like to thank the parents, administrators, and community members who keep this program alive and strong more than fifty years after its inception in 1967. With the support of the community, Chesterton Speech and Debate students were able to compete at more than 30 tournaments this year, claiming 86 individual first place championships in their respective events. Chesterton finishes its season ranked among the top 20 teams in the National Speech and Debate Association, now setting its sights on the national tournament in June.

The Chesterton Speech Team is coached by Karly Carden (2017), Joshua Coots, Aaron Drew (2018), Rachel Ewen (2000), Dannielle Hunt (1999), Chris Lowery (1999), Dakota McCoy (2011), and Tim Young (2009).

Pictured: District qualifiers, Hamza Sahli, Nathan Osborn, Mark Jewison, Dylan Leavitt. Not pictured: Natalie Nuñez. (Dakota McCoy)